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Essais de michel de montaigne, vol. 2: avec les notes de tous les commentateurs (classic reprint) (fr - Essays (Montaigne) - Wikipedia



Given the huge breadth of his readings, Montaigne could have been ranked among the most erudite humanists of the XVI th century. But in the Essays , his aim is above all to exercise his own judgment properly. Readers who might want to convict him of ignorance would find nothing to hold against him, he said, for he was exerting his natural capacities, not borrowed ones. He thought that too much knowledge could prove a burden, preferring to exert his ‘natural judgment’ to displaying his erudition.

If being a philosopher means being insensitive to human frailties and to the evils or to the pleasures which befall us, then Montaigne is not a philosopher. If it means using a “jargon”, and being able to enter the world of scholars, then Montaigne is not one either. Yet, if being a philosopher is being able to judge properly in any circumstances of life, then the Essays are the exemplary testimony of an author who wanted to be a philosopher for good. Montaigne is putting his judgment to trial on whatever subject, in order not only to get to know its value, but also to form and strengthen it.

He manages thus to offer us a philosophy in accordance with life. As Nietzsche puts it, “that such a man has written, joy on earth has truly increased…If my task were to make this earth a home, I would attach myself to him.” Or, as Stefan Zweig said, in a context which was closer to the historical reality experienced by Montaigne himself : “Montaigne helps us answer this one question: ‘How to stay free? How to preserve our inborn clear-mindedness in front of all the threats and dangers of fanaticism, how to preserve the humanity of our hearts among the upsurge of bestiality?’”

Given the huge breadth of his readings, Montaigne could have been ranked among the most erudite humanists of the XVI th century. But in the Essays , his aim is above all to exercise his own judgment properly. Readers who might want to convict him of ignorance would find nothing to hold against him, he said, for he was exerting his natural capacities, not borrowed ones. He thought that too much knowledge could prove a burden, preferring to exert his ‘natural judgment’ to displaying his erudition.

If being a philosopher means being insensitive to human frailties and to the evils or to the pleasures which befall us, then Montaigne is not a philosopher. If it means using a “jargon”, and being able to enter the world of scholars, then Montaigne is not one either. Yet, if being a philosopher is being able to judge properly in any circumstances of life, then the Essays are the exemplary testimony of an author who wanted to be a philosopher for good. Montaigne is putting his judgment to trial on whatever subject, in order not only to get to know its value, but also to form and strengthen it.

He manages thus to offer us a philosophy in accordance with life. As Nietzsche puts it, “that such a man has written, joy on earth has truly increased…If my task were to make this earth a home, I would attach myself to him.” Or, as Stefan Zweig said, in a context which was closer to the historical reality experienced by Montaigne himself : “Montaigne helps us answer this one question: ‘How to stay free? How to preserve our inborn clear-mindedness in front of all the threats and dangers of fanaticism, how to preserve the humanity of our hearts among the upsurge of bestiality?’”


d'après l'exemplaire de Bordeaux
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Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, Lord of Montaigne ( / m ɒ n ˈ t eɪ n / ; [3] French:  [miʃɛl ekɛm də mɔ̃tɛɲ] ; 28 February 1533 – 13 September 1592) was one of the most significant philosophers of the French Renaissance , known for popularizing the essay as a literary genre . His work is noted for its merging of casual anecdotes [4] and autobiography with serious intellectual insight; his massive volume Essais contains some of the most influential essays ever written.

Montaigne had a direct influence on Western writers, including Francis Bacon , René Descartes , [5] Blaise Pascal , Jean-Jacques Rousseau , Albert Hirschman , William Hazlitt , [6] Ralph Waldo Emerson , Friedrich Nietzsche , Stefan Zweig , Eric Hoffer , [7] Isaac Asimov , and possibly on the later works of William Shakespeare .

Montaigne was born in the Aquitaine region of France, on the family estate Château de Montaigne , in a town now called Saint-Michel-de-Montaigne , close to Bordeaux . The family was very wealthy; his great-grandfather, Ramon Felipe Eyquem, had made a fortune as a herring merchant and had bought the estate in 1477, thus becoming the Lord of Montaigne. His father, Pierre Eyquem, Seigneur of Montaigne, was a French Catholic soldier in Italy for a time and had also been the mayor of Bordeaux.

Given the huge breadth of his readings, Montaigne could have been ranked among the most erudite humanists of the XVI th century. But in the Essays , his aim is above all to exercise his own judgment properly. Readers who might want to convict him of ignorance would find nothing to hold against him, he said, for he was exerting his natural capacities, not borrowed ones. He thought that too much knowledge could prove a burden, preferring to exert his ‘natural judgment’ to displaying his erudition.

If being a philosopher means being insensitive to human frailties and to the evils or to the pleasures which befall us, then Montaigne is not a philosopher. If it means using a “jargon”, and being able to enter the world of scholars, then Montaigne is not one either. Yet, if being a philosopher is being able to judge properly in any circumstances of life, then the Essays are the exemplary testimony of an author who wanted to be a philosopher for good. Montaigne is putting his judgment to trial on whatever subject, in order not only to get to know its value, but also to form and strengthen it.

He manages thus to offer us a philosophy in accordance with life. As Nietzsche puts it, “that such a man has written, joy on earth has truly increased…If my task were to make this earth a home, I would attach myself to him.” Or, as Stefan Zweig said, in a context which was closer to the historical reality experienced by Montaigne himself : “Montaigne helps us answer this one question: ‘How to stay free? How to preserve our inborn clear-mindedness in front of all the threats and dangers of fanaticism, how to preserve the humanity of our hearts among the upsurge of bestiality?’”


d'après l'exemplaire de Bordeaux
Search the full text of Montaigne's Essais using the PhiloLogic™ search engine:

 


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